WordPress for Creatives: You CAN Do It Yourself

WP themes
Many themes are free, and you can download them from within WordPress.

So you’ve made a bunch of somethings, and you have a pile of these things that you want to show off, or you have a skill level that you want to prove to future clients so they will hire you. You know you need a website but you don’t know where to start. Unless you are a coder (and few creatives are happy in code land) you’ll want both a level of customization and ease-of-use that building with WordPress can provide. This walk-through takes you through purchasing a domain, hosting plan, and building out your site.

WordPress Walk-through

  1. Set your goals, then set your baby-step goals. Web-sites are fluid and can grow with your needs, so yes your ultimate goal is The Best Portfolio Site Ever, but when you start planning it, focus on the essentials, realizing that as your skill level with WordPress grows, your site can grow too and you’ll learn while you’re doing it. If you’re new to building a website, keep it simple or risk frustrating yourself so much you never touch it again. Be realistic, take baby steps. It’s a process. This is good for you, trust me.
  2. You need to buy your domain name, and while you’re at it, buy a hosting package. Most providers bundle these together at a reduced price (which eventually runs out… beware that year 2 or 3 will have a fee jump). Bluehost, Siteground, and Hostgator are at the top of most “Best WordPress Hosting” lists. GoDaddy never is. https://www.isitwp.com/top-wordpress-hosting/
  3. Go into your Control Panel that your provider gives you and set up your email at your domain! There’s no extra charge and it looks professional. I can’t tell you how many “professional” emails I receive from client@yahoo.com, when they already own a perfectly good domain name that they should be using. yourname@yourdomain.com is the best and shows that you’re a pro.
  4. You’ve purchased your domain, set up your hosting, and you’ve gone to your Control Panel and successfully installed WordPress by pushing the button. It looks bland, but you’re afraid to break that bland thing. There are lots of free WordPress themes for showing off your work that you can install. Look at their samples, be inspired, install some and see. Play and realize that once you have all your content uploaded, you may want to change how it looks anyhow. https://dessign.net/20-best-free-creative-wordpress-themes/
  5. There’s no shame in buying the book “WordPress for Dummies”. I have a copy. Skip the sections about code and concentrate on the user experience. If you know how to use the Google, you also know that the quality of the question determines the quality of the answer. Use it to ask specific WordPress questions you have. It turns out you’re not the first to get lost in WordPress. https://www.seedprod.com/beginners-guide-wordpress-back-end/
  6. WP themes
    Endless possibilities can be intimidating.

    You found a template that you sort of like, but it’s so empty. Where’s the button to fill it with your stuff? You are that button. Collect your images, resize them for the web if you need to. You may want to watermark them or copyright them. Upload them to your WP Media Library.

  7. Write your content. At very least you’ll want “About Me”, “Contact Me”, and “About My Work”. You’ll want to mention shows, awards, areas of study. In your text you’ll want to keep in mind your keywords for SEO purposes. If you’re book cover designer, then those words should be on nearly every page. “Creative, experienced, book cover designer with a passion for typography” is almost all quality keywords! Winning! Step back and imagine what your ideal client would search for to find you, then use those words. This type of well-thought-out SEO writing is most of what it takes to rank high in searches. Authentic, clear, valuable content. You can geek out on SEO if you like, there’s a WordPress plug-in that is used a lot called Yoast SEO that helps you along. Or ask the Google. http://www.wpbeginner.com/wordpress-seo/
  8. Build your portfolio gallery from your uploaded images. Fill in your pages with your text. If you have a logo for yourself, use it. Most WP themes allow a bit of color and font customization to match your vibe. You can add widgets to connect your social media accounts, show off client comments, and more. Remember you want to draw attention to you and your stuff, so let the theme itself be minimalistic. Take advantage of sliders, rotators and such to show off feature images. Write philosophical quotes to use in slider areas. If you have client quotes, find a place for those.
  9. Be yourself, tell your story, inspire confidence.
happy computer user
This is you after you’ve set up your WordPress portfolio!

WordPress, like anything, can feel daunting to use at first. Keep in mind that it was originally a blogging platform that has developed over time, so there are layers to it that you’ll probably never use. Keep focussed on your goal and enjoy the process.